On Saturday May 4, 2019, the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, the Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club, and the Solar System Exploration Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have teamed up to offer a day of public programs focusing on our solar system. The events will include a Planet Walk on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail and an illustrated evening presentation on the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing by Apollo 11 at Anne Arundel Community College, followed by a Stargazing Party at the AACC Observatory. Attendance and parking are free for all events.
The events will kick off at 10:00 am with a Planet Walk along a 4.7-mile segment of the B&A Trail between Glen Burnie and Severna Park. This segment of the Trail features two sculptures and eight planet stations representing the Sun and the planets of the Solar System, with a sculptural stainless steel marker spaced at each planet’s proportional distance from the Sun. Between 10:00 am and 2:30 pm, planetary scientists and astronomers from NASA Goddard, area colleges and universities and local astronomy clubs will be at each of the planet stations to provide information and activities concerning that planet as well as to answer questions.
Participants can walk or bicycle the 4.7-mile course between the Sun Sculpture, located just south of 800 Aquahart Road(behind Harundale Plaza) in Glen Burnie and the Pluto sculpture, located just north of the Earleigh Heights Road Ranger Station in Severna Park. Ample parking is located adjacent to the beginning of the Planet Walk in Glen Burnie. It is recommended that participants start at the Sun Station. This event will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain. For participants seeking a shorter or less time-consuming experience, the six planets between the Sun and Saturn can be visited by traveling in the first 1 1/4 miles of the Planet Walk between Harundale Plaza and Marley Station Mall.
Special evening events are also scheduled at Anne Arundel Community College’s Arnold campus. At 7:30 pm, an Astronomy Cafe’ will be presented on The Legacy and Future of Lunar Exploration in the AACC Student Union Dining Hall, located near Parking Lot A. Staci L. Tiedeken, Outreach Coordinator for the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will present a retrospective look at the first lunar landing by the Apollo 11 Mission in 1969. She will be followed by Dr. Brett Denevi, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, who will discuss the plans and objectives of future lunar exploration missions. Both speakers will be available, with other scientists and researchers, to talk with the audience informally and answer questions about lunar exploration in a small group setting following the two presentations. Because of construction activities on the AACC campus, it is recommended that attendees access Parking Lot A via the westernmost entrance to the campus off College Parkway, opposite Peninsula Farm Road.
Following the Astronomy Cafe’, beginning at 8:30 pm, the AACC Astronomy Club will host a Stargazing Party at the College Observatory. The Observatory is located in the back of parking lots A and B, a short walk from the Student Union. Participants will be able to use the Observatory’s telescopes with the assistance of Astronomy Club members, or may bring their own telescopes. The Stargazing Party will be cancelled in the event that either overcast conditions or inclement weather obscure the heavens.
The Eleventh Anniversary Planet Walk on May 4 will give participants a chance to gain greater insight into the makeup of our solar system as well as to learn about current and past lunar research projects. Additional information about these events is also available on Facebook or http://www.friendsofaatrails.org. A campus map of Anne Arundel Community College may be found at: AACC Campus Map